1888-1889 Wright’s Hinge Lantern

This lantern is the first model of lantern ever made by E.T. Wright & Co. In 1888, Wright bought the tinware side of J.M. Williams & Co. This included the lanterns made by J.M. Williams. This buyout was Wright’s first move into making lanterns, soon they would become the largest manufacturer of lanterns in Canada.

When Wright took over, they did have to change some things however. Wright couldn’t use the George C. Fifield, of the USA, patent the Williams Hinge lanterns were made under, so instead they switched to the similar Thomas Phillips, of Orillia, Ontario, patent. Both the Fifield and Phillips patents were granted in 1883. They differed in a few ways, the Fifield patent was designed with a hinge on backside of the lantern. The tubes connected by ‘overlapping’ each other. You can view my Williams Hinge here. The Phillips patent instead used ‘wings’ that split the tubes. These wings also acted as the hinge point.

Along with that change, the fount was changed to a flat top tank, instead of the domed shape Williams used.

The Hinge design made under the Phillips patent were made until past the 1900’s, ending in 1904.  They remained one of the most popular lanterns Wright made in the 1800’s period. In 1894, Wright re-hashed the Fifield patent, changed where the hinge point was located, but kept everything beyond that the same. That version of the hinge lantern was made between 1894 and 1904.

Before Photos

This lantern was in severely poor condition when I got it. I originally got this lantern before I had my photo booth, so these photos were taken outside. Below I have written about how I restored this lantern.

Restoring The Lantern

Obviously when you look at the ‘before’ shots of this lantern, it looks quite different than what it does now. Since I did so much work to this lantern, I figured I would write a little description of what I did and how I did it.

The Tubes were the biggest problem for me, the left tube was totally rotten where the guard went through the tube, and the right tube was totally rotten at the bottom along the corner. Unfortunately, this meant both tubes needed to be replaced. I found donor tubes from a Steam Gauge & Lantern Co. No.0, the lantern was ruined, but the tubes were good.

This Wright lantern uses ‘two-piece’ corners, which means both sides are individual pieces, instead of one solid formed corner. This meant I needed to find a way to recreate these corners. That was accomplished thanks to my partners father, who owns a CNC machine. He took measurements of the corners and with the CNC machine made a wooden press that matched the corners. I found a antique sap bucket made from tin that is the same gauge as the lantern.

It took about 12 tries to get 4 perfectly formed corners, using a Dremel with a cutting wheel I cleaned up the edges to be as smooth as I could make them. This meant I had all the replacement pieces I needed.

Reassembling The Lantern

First thing I did was solder the corners to the tubes. This way I could line up the old tubes to the new ones to ensure I got a correct shape and length.

After that, I soldered the tubes to the body of the fount of the lantern. This was tricky since the hinges made it extremely hard to get a good angle. After that, all that was left was to drill the holes for the globe guard, globe plate, and solder those pieces into place. Finally, I did was put the top back on the tubes, and soldered that into place.

Last thing I did cover the lantern thoroughly in a ‘rust converter’ product. This neutralizes the rust of the lantern and leaves an insoluble paint-able layer on the lantern, to prevent rust from developing in the future. Then it was off to paint it. It’s painted in a high temperature black paint, that mimics the black japanning that would be applied to the lantern at the factory.

One Comment

  • Bob Bolhuis

    That turned out beautifully . My son doe some work with a 3D printer and He made me some replacement parts for my antique engines. They are often strong enough to just use the plastic part . This might be an easy way to make your forms for pressing the new tubes.

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